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Are Your Kids Exposed to the Celeb Sexy Selfie Craze?

By Steven Woda on May 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM

The other week we posted about a new Justin Bieber-funded selfie app that may make "selfies" a more positive online practice. However, Mr.Bieber is also part of a group of celebrities who often post a barrage of "sexy" selfies online. Find out what him and other young celebrities are posting and learn about what you can do to make sure that your tweens aren't mimicking them. This article was originally published on McAfee by Toni Birdsong.

Almost weekly I read that yet another young celebrity I once considered a safe role model for my teen is posting risqué selfies online. And, it seems the bizarre surge in stars sharing photos of themselves showering, making out, sunbathing, or just hanging around naked is on the rise. No doubt some of the child stars our kids grew up loving on television are now digitally off limits.

To be fair most of these celebrities are now in their 20s and simply echoing the impulsive behavior of their Hollywood peers. But that doesn’t change the fact that their young fan base still includes our kids.

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Wearable Technology for Kids Coming From LeapFrog

By Tim Woda on May 4, 2014 at 12:15 PM

This article was originally published by CNN and is written by Doug Gross.

The wearable technology movement is in full effect, and exercise-based activity trackers lead the way. Now, it's becoming child's play.

Leapfrog, the maker of education-oriented tablets and apps for children, has unveiled LeapBand, a wearable activity tracker designed with kids in mind.

Selling for $40 and designed for children ages 4-7, the LeapBand "encourages active play and healthy habits" with 50 different games and other challenges. It will be available in August, the company said in a written release.

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How to Navigate the Internet Radio Service Pandora

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

What is Pandora?

Pandora is a free, personalized Internet radio service. Through the Music Genome Project, Pandora identifies what users like and streams similar content so they can create up to 100 personalized “stations” to share and comment with friends.

Is Pandora "social" Radio?

Comments and discussion are encouraged on song pages, artist pages, albums pages, and Pandora's genre station pages. 

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Quick Facts About the Xbox Live Gaming Console

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 3:45 PM

XBox Live Quick Facts:

  • The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft, the first one being just the Xbox.

  • There are over 720 Xbox 360 games now and roughly 7.5 games are sold to every Xbox 360 owner.

  • The top three games played on Xbox Live are: 'Halo 3', 'Call of Duty 4' and 'Call of Duty: World at War' - all of which have a social aspect

  • As well as gaming, the Xbox 360 can also be used for watching movies, listening to music and social networking.

What is Xbox LIVE?

Xbox LIVE is the online service for Xbox 360. With a paid gold membership, people can play games and chat with other players, download games to their console, control avatars in a virtual world, search for entertainment, and watch movies and TV.

At signup, users choose a gamertag by which they'll be known on Xbox live and an avatar, a computer animated figure to be their virtual self.

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How to Use the Interactive Radio Player Last.fm

By Steven Woda on April 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Last.fm Quick Facts:

  • Last.fm has over 47.2 million users

  • It recognizes 45 million unique tracks (songs)

  • Last.fm boasts over 12 million tracks available via their streaming service

  • Last.fm is available on over 600 devices

What is Last.fm?

Last.fm is a personalized, interactive radio player, but it's also full of social networking features designed to connect users with each other to enhance the listening experience. Last.fm recommends new music based on a user's taste and helps them communicate with friends about music and share songs.

Who Uses Last.fm?

Registered users add new music to their playlist by “scrobbling” songs. Their personal music collection is called their Library. All activity in their Library isn't visible to anyone for the first two weeks, but after that point it is open to everyone to see unless a user designates privacy settings – from “everyone” to “nobody.”

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An Inside Look at Picture-Sharing Site Photobucket

By Tim Woda on April 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Photobucket is a popular, free photo hosting site for people 14 and up. Users can upload and manage photos and videos, share images on blogs and social networks, and interact with the community of Photobucket users.

How does Photobucket work?

Users can upload and edit their photos and videos through Photobook, and share them by email or linking to their social networking accounts. They can also enter photos in contests, put them in categories of like images with other users, follow other users, or see how many people have looked at their pictures. They can search for images by keyword and leave comments on other users' pictures.

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Digital Parenting: Are Your Children Gaming Safely?

By Tim Woda on April 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Have a gaming teen, tween or child in your household?

Parental monitoring and involvement is critical when it comes to helping children game safely. You should take an active interest in the games that your child plays and wants to buy.

We also suggest that research game ratings and content on www.esrb.org. This website is maintained by the Entertainment Software Rating Board which rates thousands of games each year.

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8 Online Etiquette Rules Every Tween Should Know

By Steven Woda on April 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM

With college administrators and employers often checking candidates’ social network profiles and tweens and teens online more than ever before, it’s extremely important to ensure that your tweens and teens are representing themselves online appropriately. Social Media “Netiquette” consists of a variety of factors including language used, tones emitted through word choice and sentence structure, and the manners in which people conduct themselves when posting behind screens (especially when done anonymously).

Luckily, teenagers admit that social media etiquette is an important factor in their lives. A recent Teen Trend Report from a Stage of Life survey found that 91% of teens indicate that civility, manners and etiquette are either “important” or “very important” to them. 69.3% (the majority) of teens say that they learn “bad manners” from the media, whereas 97% of teens expressed that they learn their “good manners” at home.

With uKnow’s Social Media Etiquette Twitter Party around the corner, we asked social media bloggers, consultants, and authors about their top concerns and rules for teens' and tweens’ social media ‘netiquette’. More than anything, the contributors emphasize how easy it is to be offensive online, whether someone is intending to offend or not. See what they believe are the most important facets of social media etiquette.

1. Post for Your Future

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When an Adult Engages in Cyberbullying Against a Child

By Tim Woda on April 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Although it is alarming to learn about adults cyberbullying other adults, it is even more disturbing to hear about cases in which adults cyberbully kids. Earlier this month we posted an article about how a kindergarten girl was cyberbullied following a trip to Walmart. More details on the incident have since been released.

Cyberbullying most often manifests when children, especially teens, use smart phones, the Internet, and social media to torment another child. However, cyberbullying is not exclusively conducted by kids, targeting kids.

One of the first cases of an adult cyberbullying a child took place recently in Seneca, South Carolina. The incident began when an unnamed six year old girl, who appears to be on the heavy side and has some health issues related to her weight, had her picture taken and posted online as a joke. The man who took the picture posted it on his Facebook page with the caption “Honey Boo Boo at Walmart.” The cyberbully in question: Walhalla High School Assistant Principal Charlie Fowler. 

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To LOL, or Not To LOL? That is The Question

By Steven Woda on April 20, 2014 at 9:58 AM

In the world of Social Media Etiquette, the acronym LOL is quickly evolving into a term with different meaning than "laughing out loud". Think about the last time you used LOL or saw it used: did it really indicate that you/they were literally laughing out loud? This article was originally published on USA Today by AP National Writer Martha Irvine.

If I thought something in a casual online conversation was funny, I typed it. If I wanted to let someone know I was kidding in an e-mail or an instant message, same.

I might've even felt a little cool, using inside lingo that, at one time, was exclusive to the online world. (You know I'm not the only one who thought so.)

Today, though, I'm sensing a shift, even in my own thoughts about LOL. Certainly, it's as ubiquitous as ever. Just search for it on Twitter or Facebook to see how often people use it. Not exactly deep and meaningful stuff, mind you, but there sure is a lot of it.

Perhaps that's why, at least in some circles, LOL has lost its cachet. And at its worst, it's making people a little cranky.

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Teaching Kids and Teens Media Smarts During Breaking News

By Tim Woda on April 16, 2014 at 3:45 PM

With constant breaking news streaming in through media outlets and social networks, kids and teens need to know how to digest and decipher news reports. Teach them the basics of how to filter out what is accurate and important in the news world. This article was originally published on Common Sense Media and is written by Sierra Filucci.

When big news breaks, it's easy to get caught up in following the news online. But while the Internet -- from major news sites to Twitter -- can be a valuable place to find useful information, it can also be the source of misinformation. Helping kids and teens understand the news and how to separate fact from fiction is an important job for parents and educators.

Here's some advice parents can offer kids and teens who consume the news:

Remember, breaking news is often wrong. In the rush to cover stories, reporters make mistakes, officials don't always have correct information, and tidbits that sound plausible often get passed around before anyone can check for accuracy. One Texas TV station reported through closed captioning that Zooey Deschanel was one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers!

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The Pros and Cons of Xbox: Is Xbox Good for Kids?

By Steven Woda on April 14, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Many parents today are wondering if Xbox is good for kids, and while there is much debate about this topic, the findings tend to show there may be more cons than pros when it comes to kids playing the popular video game system. With complaints that this kind of gaming leaves kids too isolated from others to concerns over damaged vision from staring at the screen, parents and educators everywhere are very wary of the potential negative effects.

Yet, there are positive effects that can come from playing Xbox and Xbox Live. Xbox Live is a feature of Xbox which enables the player to game online against their friends or other people. Both Xbox and Xbox Live can have plenty of positive and negative impacts on kids.

Pros

Some of the most common positive effects of playing video games include that Xbox:

  • Increases self-confidence

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Social Media Etiquette Tips for Teenagers

By Steven Woda on April 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

This article was originally published on Psychology Today by Raychelle Cassanda Lohmann.

Computers and modern technology are taking up a lot of teens' time. While there are some perks to technology, there are also some negative things associated with it. A national survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids between the ages of 8 to 18 are spending an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day using entertainment media (e.g., phones, computer, television, mp3 players or other electronic devices). That's more than 53 hours a week! And because our teens are so good at watching TV while working on the computer or texting a friend, they have used their time-management skills to fit about 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7 hours and 38 minutes.

With teens spending so much time working on-line via social networking sites, emailing, texting, visiting chat rooms, or just surfing the net, it's important that parents review the following Cyber Etiquette tips with their teen.

Top 10 Cyber Etiquette Tips:

1. Exercise the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you wouldn't speak to the person that way face to face, then don't do it online.

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Famous Movies About Teenage Bullying

By Tim Woda on April 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Teenage bullying has become a hot button topic. It comes in physical and psychological forms, with an individual or group of individuals deciding to assault another. The reason usually has something to do with the victim being different in their eyes. This is an unfortunate attitude. With the advent of the Internet, cyberbullying has brought bullying to the forefront and has made bullying both easier and more invasive.

As always, movies will shed a light on the darker aspects of our society from a number of angles. It can be enlightening if we pay attention to the message as much as the storyline. Here are five movies about teenage bullying.

Heathers (1988)

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'Eraser Challenge' Game Has Students Harming Themselves

By Tim Woda on April 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

See what measures that middle school administrators are taking to exterminate a dangerous new trend that is circulating among students. This article was originally published on the Huffington Post and is written by Rebecca Klein.

Students at one Connecticut middle school aren't using pencils solely for taking notes. Some are rubbing their arms with pencil erasers until their skin is mutilated.

School administrators at Bethel Middle School recently sent a letter home to parents and guardians asking they talk to their children about a dangerous game called the "Eraser Challenge."

The game, the letter explains, involves kids “'erasing’ their skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter. Once they get to the letter Z, they stop and then compare the injury to their [friends'],” according to the Bethel Patch.

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My Face Was Used For A Viral Meme

By Tim Woda on April 1, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Earlier we posted about a 6-year-old whose picture was unknowingly taken at Walmart and posted online as a joke. Read a response from a woman who is in the midst of a similar situation. Blogger Helene Sula had no idea that a picture she had originally posted on her blog would end up being used in a politically-based meme and circulated among thousands of people. These unfortunate situations demonstrate how easily an incident can be taken out of context and turn viral by a cyberbully. This article was originally published on Thought Catalog by Helene Sula.

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Everything You Need to Know About Smart Watches

By Tim Woda on March 30, 2014 at 7:37 AM

No one ever said that raising kids was easy.  Raising kids in the digital age presents a unique set of concerns and challenges that your parents never had to worry about. However, what you don't hear often is how technology can actually help keep your kids safe and sound. The advent of smartphones, GPS, and widespread Internet access need not only be a source of fear for concerned parents. These technologies can be used for parental monitoring and peace of mind. There are many examples that can highlight this, but perhaps one of the most exciting examples of this concept is the smart watch.

Smart watches are the latest trend in mobile and wearable technology. New smart watches are in development from some of the biggest names in the industry. This is an exciting and cutting edge trend, but what value does it have for parents? Smart watches with built in GPS and cellular functionality present a great opportunity for parental monitoring.

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5 Tips to Protect Your Children from Dangerous Games on Social Media

By Steven Woda on March 3, 2014 at 5:43 PM

This article was written by Tyler Cohen Wood for Manilla.com and orginally posted on the Huffington Post.

As many of us know, social media changes so quickly that it is often hard to keep up. New videos and games pop up constantly and immediately go viral. The latest craze to hit social media is a game called Neknominate.

How the game works is alarming: Typically, a young person drinks a large amount of alcohol (such as half a bottle of vodka) in a bizarre fashion, like half-naked at a mall or mixed with a dead rat, and he posts it to his social network, usually Facebook or YouTube. After he plays the game, he nominates a friend

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All About Yik Yak, the Newest Viral App

By Tim Woda on February 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

There is a new app on the block for Android and Smartphone users. The app, Yik Yak, allows users to post anonymous comments and thoughts. The app also takes into account the geographical location of the phone, using the location services of iPhone and Android phones to feed users comments that have been posted close by. The purpose of the app is to start anonymous conversation, but in the age of digital parenting it can be seen as far more sinister. 

Yik Yak and It's Growth 

Yik Yak debuted on Google Play in January of 2014, and entered the iPhone market in December of 2013. Since its introduction to each platform it has grown quickly. It is currently listed as the 70th most popular social networking app on the Apple App store. It has been downloaded over 6,000 times from the Google Play store and is growing by 38% each month. The free application offers young adults a platform to comment and chat anonymously with those around them. Because the application uses a phone's location services to find where the comments are being posted from, it also allows users to see comments from people that are close to them, often within a few blocks or even feet from them. The location aspect of the application has made it increasingly popular with young users, specifically those in middle school and high school, even though the application insists it is only intended for people over the age of 17. While the application restricts the age, in theory, the entire interface is skewed towards young users, with a colorful interface, cartoon-like graphics, and an easy to navigate platform. 

Yik Yak's Policies and Guidelines 

According to the rules and regulations of Yik Yak, users are to be aged 17 or older. Bullying, according to the app developers is strictly prohibited, and users are also prohibited from posting full names and phone numbers in their comments. Inappropriate content can be tagged for removal, but opponents of the app claim that content is not being monitored, nor are the users that are currently logged into Yik Yak. If someone wishes to have inappropriate comments removed it can be done in one of two ways;

  • Two users can flag the content for removal. If two flags are received the content is removed.  

  • A single user can send a screenshot to Yik Yak and the team will consider the comment for immediate removal. 

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How To Combat Cyberbullying In Online Games

By Tim Woda on January 27, 2014 at 10:13 AM

While “lives” can be gained and lost with the click of a button in the online gaming world, everyday real-world lives are being affected by the things that happen in games. Recently the developers of the game, High School Story, made news by adding a cyberbullying storyline into the game. This was done after a call came into their technical helpline that included a player saying she was thinking about taking her own life. Taking into account the competitive nature of games, it is easy (just as in real world games and athletics) for things to escalate into bullying.

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